At Modern Industry, we believe that material choices are the defining characteristic of our products. We want to build bags that get better with age so we use materials that are conducive to creating that experience. Our waxed cotton canvas develops a fine patina throughout it’s use. Our aluminum hardware is substantial and sturdy. As anyone who has used a phone with a metal body and a plastic body can tell you, the metal always looks better over time. Plastic, especially painted plastic, just does not age well.
We put extra time and energy into selecting our materials and we believe that good materials make the difference between a good bag and a great bag. We strive to make great bags. Perhaps as important as the materials we choose to use are the materials we avoid using. With this in mind, I want to start our materials spotlight series by talking about a material that we don’t use: Cordura.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, Cordura has become a stalwart of the carry industry used by many of your favorite brands. But here’s the thing, Cordura isn’t really a fabric. It is a brand name. The Cordura brand makes fabric out of everything from nylon and polyester to cotton nylon blends. One of the most common Cordura fabrics is the 1000D nylon that seems to be used in every messenger bag on the market.
Like any good brand, people use Cordura fabrics for the promise of quality. Cordura prides itself on “it’s well established reputation for toughness and durability.” As far as I can tell, they do a pretty decent job of delivering on that promise.
As you dive deeper into the brand, one does find some interesting inconsistencies. For example, according to their website, Cordura is a collection of fabrics qualified by Invista(the Cordura parent company). It goes on to say, “Invista works closely with its worldwide authorized mills... to ensure consistency of fabric quality and fitness for use.” What does that tell us? Well, it means Invista doesn’t actually own the factories that make it’s fabric. Instead, they partner with mills who produce fabric for them. This is not really a big deal, but it does suggest that one could easily get fabrics of similar quality and performance from other sources.
So why does Modern Industry choose not to use this industry staple? The answer is two fold. First, we want to use fabrics that get better with age. In our experience, fabrics made out of plastic (like nylon or polyester) do not do this. Instead, plastic based fabrics are like a new car, they get worse as soon as you start to use them. Fabrics like nylon may be, and often are, extremely durable and long lasting, they just don’t look good doing it.
The second reason has to do with the company itself. In 1929, Dupont first developed Cordura, a rayon developed for use by the military to make tires. It wasn’t until 1966 that the nylon we know today was developed. This line of nylon fabrics had superior performance capabilities and the brand name was transferred. Carry veterans Eastpak and Jansport began using Cordura fabrics and the brand quickly began to dominate the carry world.
That brings us to 2003 when Dupont decided to sell it’s Invista fibres unit. The buyer? None other than Koch Industries owned by the billionaire Republican advocates Charles and David Koch.
Now, regardless of your political affiliations, it is hard to justify the political behavior of these men. They actively work to use their massive wealth to unfairly bend the political system to do their bidding. Essentially, they advocate policies that will make them wealthier, even if these policies are bad for the country as a whole.
You may or may not agree with their political beliefs, but it’s plain to see that their methods fly in the face of the United State’s founding principles. According to Charles Lewis, the founder of the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan watchdog group, “The Kochs are on a whole different level. There’s no one else who has spent this much money. The sheer dimension of it is what sets them apart. They have a pattern of lawbreaking, political manipulation, and obfuscation. I’ve been in Washington since Watergate, and I’ve never seen anything like it. They are the Standard Oil of our times.” (Quote originally published in the New Yorker.)
As ordinary citizens continue to lose power in this country, we believe that one of our few remaining sources of power comes from our wallets. The decision what to buy and, maybe more importantly, what not to buy. We don’t always have great options, but there is almost always one option that is worse than the others. In the case of the carry world, we believe that buying Cordura and supporting the Koch brothers assault on American ideals is the worst choice one can make. Hopefully, you agree.
Now head over the our Kickstarter page and join the revolution.